|Bend back the bars of consumerism - try not buying anything.|
My partner and I have been enjoying not buying anything (except necessities) as an ongoing lifestyle. It is permanent - we do not plan on going back to a high-consumption way of life. We have discovered how much we already have, and how little we need.
We also wanted to reduce the number of hours of wage labour we needed to engage in so we could enjoy life more, and nurture our priorities.
Along the way we have become better at not buying anything. These are some of the things that have helped us move closer to our goals:
How To Not Buy Anything
- The best way to not buy anything is to reduce your desires. Ask yourself if you really need the item in question. Really need. No, really. Keep on asking. Life can be complete, exciting, and rewarding without spending money.
- Consider (as much as possible) the full environmental and social consequences of your purchases. That alone will make most stuff less attractive.
- Lower your income. The less money you have, the less you will spend. If you like your high income work, save the money you would otherwise let slip through your fingertips. Share it.
- Don't pay for anything that you can make or do yourself. This includes cooking, haircuts, riding a bike or walking for transportation, repairs around the house, and growing a garden. The potential list is huge, depending on your skills and how much time you have. Public libraries and the Internet are the go-to places for free resources to learn how to make and do new things. It is fun.
- Separate socializing and commerce. This is a hard one since the majority of social outings are based on spending money. Suggest meeting on a bench somewhere, and bring a thermos of hot beverage and a snack from home. Have a picnic in a park. Meet in a public venue with bag lunches. Go for a walk together.
- Don't buy anything that is not good for you or for others. Processed foods, snack foods, restaurant food, alcohol, and violent movies are things that probably are not so good for us - why spend money on them? We cut our gas purchases by 50% this year because burning fossil fuels degrades our collective resource - the atmosphere.
- Resist the urge to upgrade. Upgrades are expensive and wasteful. Ask yourself if it is really necessary to replace perfectly good devices with ones that are questionably 'better' or 'improved'. When you buy something, try using it until it wears out and dies a natural death. Many things you may never need to buy again.
- When you go out take food and water with you. Even crappy fast food and pop or bottled water are temptations when you're thirsty and hungry. We never leave home on longer outings without food and something to drink. This makes spontaneous picnics possible, and we have them frequently. Costs less, and no garbage is generated.
- Do not compare yourself to those around you. It does not matter what other people have, or think you should have. It does not matter if those around you go for annual vacations in warm third world destinations. The Joneses lost the house, gave up, and left the neighbourhood years ago.
- Make what you already own last as long as possible. Use your things gently, maintain them, keep them clean, and lower your cost per use.
- Try not to be guilted into buying things. Reduce the obligations that you do not agree with that make you feel like you 'have to' buy things.
- Number 1 is worth repeating. The best way to not buy anything is to reduce your desires.
The antiquated idea of 'the one who dies with the most toys wins' is dead. We have the capacity to be happier with less. The more we live this way, the more we wonder what all the other stuff was for.
The high consumption lifestyles that we are trained to aspire to are looking obscenely wasteful in an increasingly wasted, famine-ridden world.
We hope our tips will help you not buy anything except the necessities - for a day, a Christmas, a whole year, or as an ongoing, low impact, sustainable lifestyle.